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The State of Artificial Intelligence in India and How Far is Too Far?

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  • Last Updated : 27 Feb, 2020

With the massive global upsurge in technological developments in recent years, particularly in Artificial Intelligence (AI), more and more nations are shifting their focus to Artificial Intelligence and taking advantage of this technology to become the global leaders in AI supremacy. India is one of the most lucrative countries to invest in technology transactions worldwide. Being one of the fastest-growing hubs of business around the world, India has a lot of scope for Artificial Intelligence. Over the last few years, the youth has focused its interest more on technology, and developments in the field. As a result of this shift of thought in youngsters, the government of India has realized that it is a vital part of the country’s economic development. The rise of Artificial Intelligence in India can help it bring about a transformation in various domains, such as education, health, agriculture, and transportation.

In just two short years, the growth of Artificial Intelligence in India will be so significant that some reports suggest it will increase the rate of innovation in the country by over 220%. NITI Aayog’s paper on Artificial intelligence “National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence” says that India will require a unique national strategy that bases itself on a framework that adapts itself according to India’s requirements and aspirations as a country. In attempting to show that it is serious about India’s future in the realm of Artificial Intelligence, in May 2019, NITI Aayog proposed a scheme to develop an institutional framework in India. The circulation of a cabinet note to provide Rs 7500 Crore of funding has taken place. Its short-term plan is to create a cloud computing platform called AIRAWAT and research institutes. Then to set up a high-level task force to ensure the implementation of Artificial Intelligence in India. If India is to compete in the global AI race, India must take strides in the fields such as education and research. Currently, the number of PhDs that India is producing in areas such as Artificial Intelligence and machine learning are too few. Hopefully, this initiative by NITI Aayog is a step in the right direction.

Artificial Intelligence has the potential to drive massive changes in the economy. By automating multi-layered physical tasks that require adaptability across various industries. Accenture’s recent AI research report provides a framework to assess the economic impact of Artificial Intelligence on G20 countries. It predicts that catching up with this technological trend will expedite India’s annual growth rate by 1.3 percentage by 2035, which means that it could potentially add $957 Billion to India’s current gross value in the same year. NITI Aayog has analyzed a large number of sectors in the new national Artificial Intelligence strategy document to understand where AI can be most effective. It has taken a conscious decision to focus on a select set of sectors where private sector-led initiatives are not the only actions that lead to achieving a desirable societal outcome.

Sure, India’s road to success in the realm of Artificial Intelligence looks well lit, and it will, without a doubt, be very propitious for the country. But the potential perils that come along with the future of AI is a much-debated topic. Numerous experts in the domain of Artificial Intelligence are wary of the increasing use and the exponential rate at which the technology is advancing because they are unsure of what it holds in store. The late Stephen Hawking and even Elon Musk have repeated time and time that Artificial Intelligence poses an existential threat to humanity. Most people, when asked if they are okay with living in a highly automated world, driven by Artificial Intelligence, they seem to be entirely for the idea. But when diving deep into the specificities of such a world, many people seem to draw a line somewhere and say that is not acceptable.

For Example, when asked if they were comfortable with being driven around in self-driving vehicles, 90% of the respondents said yes. But the rate of respondents who would be pleased with the changes in the world decreased with each question. When asked if people would be happy with automating interviews, only 38% said yes. Most people said that they never wish to see a machine solely deciding whom to hire. When asked if they believed it was acceptable for robots to fight wars, only 32% of respondents said yes. Questions related to the intervention of Artificial Intelligence in the field of medicine and surgery saw responses that indicated that most people would be willing to accept it as this technology developed. But when asked if they thought it was acceptable for a machine to manipulate your emotions, 83% of the respondents said that emotional manipulation by a computer is not acceptable under any circumstance.

As we approach the age of Artificial Intelligence, an increasing number of people are okay with automating tasks involving manual ability, skill, and precision, but not tasks involving emotions, values, and intuition although various kinds of technologies are already manipulating our feelings. Technologies such as advertising, mass media, and social engineering already have a significant impact on how we think and what we think. But the possibility that machines could toy with our emotions drew the highest negative response. This negative response is because humans like to be in control, and even the thought that we might not be in power in the future is terrifying to us. We must have this debate because it will help us maximize the benefits that we can achieve from AI while minimizing the risks. Right now, we have the opportunity to make a high degree of human-machine symbiosis in the future with humans working alongside machines to maximize their relative strengths.

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